The World Factbook (1990)/Comoros

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 See regional map VII


Total area: 2,170 km²; land area: 2,170 km²

Comparative area: slightly more than 12 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 340 km

Maritime claims:

Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: claims French-administered Mayotte

Climate: tropical marine; rainy season (November to May)

Terrain: volcanic islands, interiors vary from steep mountains to low hills

Natural resources: negligible

Land use: 35% arable land; 8% permanent crops; 7% meadows and pastures; 16% forest and woodland; 34% other

Environment: soil degradation and erosion; deforestation; cyclones possible during rainy season

Note: important location at northern end of Mozambique Channel


Population: 460,188 (July 1990), growth rate 3.5% (1990)

Birth rate: 48 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 12 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 0 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 89 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 54 years male, 58 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 7.0 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Comoran(s); adjective—Comoran

Ethnic divisions: Antalote, Cafre, Makoa, Oimatsaha, Sakalava

Religion: 86% Sunni Muslim, 14% Roman Catholic

Language: Shaafi Islam (a Swahili dialect), Malagasy, French

Literacy: 15%

Labor force: 140,000 (1982); 80% agriculture, 3% government; 51% of population of working age (1985)

Organized labor: NA


Long-form name: Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros

Type: independent republic

Capital: Moroni

Administrative divisions: 3 islands; Anjouan, Grande Comore, Moheli; note—there may also be 4 municipalities named Domoni, Fomboni, Moroni, and Mutsamudu

Independence: 6 July 1975 (from France)

Constitution: 1 October 1978, amended October 1982 and January 1985

Legal system: French and Muslim law in a new consolidated code

National holiday: Independence Day, 6 July (1975)

Executive branch: president, Council of Ministers (cabinet)

Legislative branch: unicameral Federal Assembly (Assemblée Fédérale)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Suprême)

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President Said Mohamed DJOHAR (since 11 March 1990)

Political parties: Comoran Union for Progress (Udzima), Said Mohamed Djohar, president; National Union for Democracy (UNDC), Mohamed Taki

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: President—last held 11 March 1990 (next to be held March 1996); results—Said Mohamed Djohar (Udzima) 55%; Mohamed Taki Abdulkarim (UNDC) 45%;

Federal Assembly—last held 22 March 1987 (next to be held March 1992); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(42 total) Udzima 42

Member of: ACP, AfDB, FAO, G-77, IBRD, IDA, IDB Islamic Development Bank, IFAD, ILO, IMF, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Amini Ali MOUMIN; Chancery (temporary) at the Comoran Permanent Mission to the UN, 336 East 45th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10017; telephone (212) 972-8010; US—Ambassador Howard K. WALKER, resides in Antananarivo (Madagascar); Embassy at address NA, Moroni (mailing address B. P. 1318, Moroni); telephone 73-12-03

Flag: green with a white crescent placed diagonally (closed side of the crescent points to the upper hoist-side corner of the flag); there are four white five-pointed stars placed in a line between the points of the crescent; the crescent, stars, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam; the four stars represent the four main islands of the archipelago Mwali, Njazidja, Nzwani, and Mayotte (which is a territorial collectivity of France, but claimed by the Comoros)


Overview: One of the world's poorest countries, Comoros is made up of several islands that have poor transportation links, a young and rapidly increasing population, and few natural resources. The low educational level of the labor force contributes to a low level of economic activity, high unemployment, and a heavy dependence on foreign technical assistance. Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is the leading sector of the economy. It contributes about 40% to GDP, employs 80% of the labor force, and provides most of the exports. The country is not self-sufficient in food production, and rice, the main staple, accounts for 90% of imports. During the period 1982-86 the industrial sector grew at an annual average rate of 5.3%, but its contribution to GDP was less than 4% in 1986. Despite major investment in the tourist industry, which accounts for about 25% of GDP, growth has stagnated since 1983.

GDP: $207 million, per capita $475; real growth rate 0.1% (1988 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 8.3% (1986)

Unemployment rate: over 16% (1988 est.)

Budget: revenues $75.2 million; expenditures $77.9 million, including capital expenditures of $4.8 million (1988 est.)

Exports: $12 million (f.o.b., 1987); commodities—vanilla, cloves, perfume oil, copra; partners—US 53%, France 41%, Africa 4%, FRG 2%

Imports: $52 million (c.i.f., 1987); commodities—rice and other foodstuffs, cement, petroleum products, consumer goods; partners—Europe 62% (France 22%, other 40%), Africa 5%, Pakistan, China

External debt: $238 million (December 1988)

Industrial production: growth rate 3.4% (1988 est.)

Electricity: 16,000 kW capacity; 24 million kWh produced, 55 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: perfume distillation

Agriculture: accounts for 40% of GDP; most of population works in subsistence agriculture and fishing; plantations produce cash crops for export—vanilla, cloves, perfume essences, and copra; principal food crops coconuts, bananas, cassava; world's leading producer of essence of ylang-ylang (for perfumes) and second-largest producer of vanilla; large net food importer

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY80-88), $9 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $371 million; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $22 million; Communist countries (1970-88), $18 million

Currency: Comoran franc (plural—francs); 1 Comoran franc (CF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Comoran francs (CF) per US$1—287.99 (January 1990), 319.01 (1989), 297.85 (1988), 300.54 (1987), 346.30 (1986), 449.26 (1985); note—linked to the French franc at 50 to 1 French franc

Fiscal year: calendar year


Highways: 750 km total; about 210 km bituminous, remainder crushed stone or gravel

Ports: Mutsamudu, Moroni

Civil air: 4 major transport aircraft

Airports: 4 total, 4 usable; 4 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 1 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 3 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: sparse system of radio relay and high-frequency radio communication stations for interisland and external communications to Madagascar and Reunion; over 1,800 telephones; stations—2 AM, 1 FM, 1 TV

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Presidential Guard, Gendarmerie

Military manpower: males 15-49, 97,504; 58,274 fit for military service

Defense expenditures: 3% of GDP (1981)